Friday, August 30, 2013

Tomorrow is September?

So much has happened since I last blogged anything.  I returned to the USA for the summer before returning to the DR, but unfortunately my fundraising did not meet my expected needs and I ended up staying in KC.  So here I am now 3 weeks into the school year at Argentine Middle School where I am teaching 8th grade math.  It has been a blast so far and I am really excited about this year.  My students represent a lot of challenges and a lot of potential and I am excited to be part of their lives and see where they can go.
For those of you that don't know the Kansas City area; Argentine is a small part of Kansas City, Kansas.  It is an area that is very rich in history and has a large standing Hispanic population.  Although Argentine sounds like it gets its name from a S American country it actually comes from its silver refining days with the Latin root of Silver being Argos.

Basically life is good, but I do miss the DR.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cheap Flights

Are cheap flights worth it?  I saved a bunch of money by booking a flight that was supposed to leave the DR at 7:30 pm  last night, it left closer to 10 pm, but that is not the point.  I spent many hours in JFK and then had a 5 hour flight to Salt Lake City, where I am right now.  Now I have a flight to Denver, which is my final destination, at least for a couple days.  So is it worth it?  I have also only spent $1 so far, impressive right?  In the end I think the $100 or $150 I am saving is worth it, but I think most people might disagree.

Here are some fun pics I took in NYC, the Statue of Liberty and all of the bridges were just to pretty to pass up getting a shot with.

Yep, I am losing my mind.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dia de Corpus Christi

Yesterday was Day of the Body of Christ.  We didn't have school, which was kind of weird for a Thursday when today on a Friday I am back.
Because we did not have school yesterday the local Young Life community took advantage of the day to remember Megan Garven who was on teacher staff in Santiago and just a couple weeks ago passed away in a car accident.  We all went up to Pico Escondido and collectively remembered Megan and planted a Manzana de Agua tree (a bright tree with lots of fruit that reflects on who Megan was).  It was a good time and a good reminder that we do not mourn for people that pass away, but we mourn for the fact that we do not get to live life with them anymore.
Because Pico Escondido is so close to the trail head of Mogote (my favorite mountain here) I decided to spend a few hours running (hurting) all over it.  I am hoping to do a 50k in KC this summer so climbing mountains over an over should make that easier I hope.

One of my friends like to take funny pics of people and then make collages like the one below.  She then send them to everyone you collectively know.  I thought it was funny, so here you go.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Keeping Focus

We have less than 10 whole days of school left and it is reaching that time of year when it becomes hard to focus on the present.  Constantly I find myself counting the number of actual plans I have to write until the summer.  The hard thing now is staying focused on the present and maintaining quality from myself and the students.  Even though it is getting harder to focus on the present we have been allowed the chance to celebrate the amount of the year we have successfully made it through so far.  The 11th grade class all got their SAT results back today and most of them were very excited about how they did.  The 12th grade class is celebrating their last few weeks of school today by "skipping", but is it really skipping if you ask the principal first?

Personally I have been spending a lot of time running up and down big hills and mountains.  My legs have felt strong as I run through the beauty of tropical mountains and I am enjoying every minute of it until I return to the states and begin adventures there.  A few days in Colorado and an adventure in Alaska are definitely things I am looking forward to.

The last few weeks here should be good and I hope to keep my focus on the present until the present is enjoying times with friends and family in the states.

We were lucky enough to have some connections to Rancho Aurora where we spent our staff retreat and student retreat.

Our end of the year Young Life party was here at Pinar Dorrado, and despite some gentle rain we all had a blast.

Both pictures came from Google Images, because I have been slacking on taking my camera anywhere.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Pico Duarte and the HS Retreat

It has been a really fun last couple weeks.  This past Saturday myself and a friend had the opportunity to climb the tallest mountain in the country as fast as possible, the next day we had our last YL leader meeting for the year, and today we had our HS retreat.  Of everything I would definitely have to say that today was the most fun of all.
Shortly after school on Friday myself and my friend Daniel left school and headed for La Cienaga, base camp for Pico Duarte.  That night we ate at our local guides house and went to bed as early as possible.  The next morning at 4:30 am we woke up, packed up, and headed up the mountain.  Round trip the mountain is roughly 28 miles and 10,000 vertical feet, so needless to say we planned on taking a good chunk of time.  Daniel didn't feel the greatest that day and let me take off on my own after 6 or so miles.  I managed to make it up to the top of the mountain in right around 4 hours and 10 minutes, which was a bit faster than I expected.  Overall the trip took me 7 hours and 36 minutes, which as far as we know is the fastest anyone has ever done it.  It was a good day, and I barely made it past 8 pm that night before I passed out in my bed.
Today we had our end of the year HS retreat, and it was a blast.  We went to local resort that was a little ways out of town, we worshiped, ate, and played the day away with the students.  The highlight for myself and quite a few of the others was a game of wrestle the football away from whoever has it.  This just happened spontaneously when the football ended up in the pool somehow and we started wrestling over it.  Somehow this ended up turning into upwards of 15 people at a time fighting for a solitary football.  I got pretty good at acquiring the football, but maintaining it was almost impossible.  Sometime the best times are the least planned ones.  Today was a wonderful chance to spend time with our students, just letting everything go and enjoying each others company.

All retreat pics are courtesy of our PE teacher Heather Hamby

Hanging out at the retreat.
 When the boss lady has the ball, everyone listens, except the ornery student with the broken wrist that stole the ball seconds later. 
 Minutes before I was ruthlessly thrown in, luckily I had changed into shorts, but I still had the polo on.
 Battle royale.
 Early in the morning on Pico Duarte
 Sunrises here are kind of awesome.
 2 hours in, still doing good.
 3 hours in and you can see the mountain haloed by a cloud in the distance.
 Ta da!
 What it looks like on top of the Caribbean when you are inside of a cloud.
 Sign at the beginning of the journey.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The End and Beginning

About a year ago I was discovering that a place called Doulos existed and needed a high school social studies teacher.  Here and now I have been here for the better part of 9 months.  After that much time in a place you generally develop some rhythm to life, and my time here has been no different.  There are certain days I go to the gym, certain things I do when I get to school everyday, certain places I enjoy on the weekends, all of this creating somewhat of a comfort zone.  A large part of my routine is rooted in what is happening at school and until recently it had a wonderful rhythm about it.  In the last couple weeks leading up to our Expedition Night and even continuing through now things went a little haywire.  Life has still been good, it just has felt a little more reckless.  The combination of missing school a few days to do some school trips with the students got us a little off track but we returned and started to get back in the rhythm only for everything to be blown apart the next week.  Part of this was do to the fact I had some wonderful friends visit, which was a lot of fun and a blessing to have them here.  This was the first time I had taken any days off and I took 2 off for it.  Expedition Day/Night also causes everything to be stirred up.  We then returned to school this week for two days before having standardized testing for 3 days.  All of this has been fine and it has been good for the most part but I am ready to return to the rhythm of day to day life.  I know times like these work for a reason and are generally good to get us out of bad habit, but I am ready for consistency.
The students that I worked with on their project was the 10th grade class.  The result of it is an attempt at bettering their community here in Jarabacoa by empowering them through knowledge and showing them the Love of Christ.  If you want to see some of what they have been doing visit the Deja Una Marca Facebook friend page or fan page and connect to any of their other links from their.
Some fun pictures have been taken out of the whirlwind of activity the last few weeks, so here ya go.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Expeditions, Friends, and Mountains

This weekend Ven and Michal Smith came to visit Jarabacoa and we had the opportunity to do a lot of fun adventuring.  We wen to a couple local waterfalls, hung out at Spirit Mountain for a day/night, and did some adventuring on motorcycles.  It was a fun time here in town and they have since made it safely to the beach.
Tomorrow is Expedition Day/Night, and it will be a wild one.  Expedition night is culmination of work that different class have been doing and are now sharing with the community.  It can be really fun, but it can also be a bit stressful for some.  My class is in a really good place right now and I am excited to wrap up all we have been working towards.  The reward for me will be a trip to the beach to catch up with Ven and Michal.
Recently myself and a friend (Daniel Gutierrez) have been attacking the local mountains to get some elevation and miles under our legs for our attempt on Pico in a few weekends.  Its fun to see how your muscles react to increased exertion.  Things that once were really difficult and energy sapping now are relaxed and easy.
Watching the students' videos (mustaches are so yesterday).

Students working on Expedition stuff. 
 This is what a our current schedule has become.
 One of the trails up at Spirit Mountain.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Revolutionary Leaders Expedition!

This semester I have had the opportunity to lead an Expedition with the Sophomore class on Revolutionary Leaders.  We have looked at all sorts of leaders throughout the last couple hundred years and used the Sermon on the Mount to see who really is a "good" leader.  From Mao Zedong to Mother Theresa the students assessed all sorts of different leaders to see what it is like to be revolutionary leader in a Biblical way.
Over the last few weeks we have had some really neat opportunities to further that learning both with an Expert guest and with some field work.  Our guest which I think I have mentioned before was Shane Claiborne.  The conversation that we had with Shane revolved around the idea of what we could do to make positive/revolutionary changes within our community hear in Jarabacoa.  I think the thing that shocked the students and myself the most was how much he stressed internal change within our own lives before we can ever look to help anyone else.  The idea of taking the log out of your own eye before trying to take a splinter out of your neighbors eye.
The conversation with Shane was followed up by trips to New Hope Girls Academy and The Ark.  Both of these trips were based around the idea of seeing revolution in work and giving them our service however we can.  At New Hope we met the girls that were learning and living there and heard all about the ministry to one of the poorest barrios in the Dominican Republic.  The students also had the opportunity to serve by interviewing and translating their interviews so that the girls can communicate with New Hope donors in the States.  The last thing we saw at New Hope was their workshop where they make really cool bags and flip flops.  This workshop employs 7 women and allows them to provide for their families.  The trip to New Hope was a really cool experience.  The day after we went to New Hope we found ourselves at the Ark.  The Ark is a orphanage here in Jarabacoa.  The revolutionary thing about the Ark is that they have around 10 houses and in each house there is a set of parents that have their own kids.  This existing family becomes the family of the orphans that end up in the Ark.  A normal house their has a mother and father and around 10 kids living in it.  As much as I could talk about both of these experiences more, I hope the pictures do a better job.
Playing with the Girls at New Hope
 Joel and New Hope Girls
 The view from New Hope
 More playing at New Hope
 After the Interviews were done balloons came out of nowhere.
 The way up to New Hope
 Cleaning gutters at the Ark
 At the New Hope workshop
 Class pic at New Hope
 Raking Leaves at the Ark
 Moving cinder blocks at the Ark

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Estancia Natura

Yesterday we got back from a fun time camping up in the mountains.  We spent two nights in the mountains above Manabao and filled the days with hiking, board games, and slacklining.  I only ended up taking a few pictures because one of our new staff members John took a lot.  Here are a couple of mine and I will try to add more later.
Our home for the time in Manabao.  All seven of us had hammocks and it became a rather amusing site when they were set up all over the place.
Looking down on our campground from the rappelling rocks.

The views don't disappoint.
It was a very fun trip and I was blessed to go with some great friends.  I may have left a little blood in the mouths of magis (worst bugs ever) but I killed many of their friends and even they couldn't stop us from having a blast.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Break and Fire.

Today is officially the first full day of Spring Break.  Today was also the day I was supposed to be climbing Pico Duarte as fast as possible.  Unfortunately there are fires in the park where Duarte is, so we postponed.  Instead of going to Duarte we went up a different mountain today.  Myself and another teacher led one of our students,Yeudi, up in what was some of the best weather of ever.  It was Yeudi's first time on Megote and we had a good time, this was the beginning of his training for accompanying me up Duarte when I am able to go next time.
Last weekend the 9th and 10th grade classes put on a dance which was a smashing success.  I worked the school entrance to make sure everyone had tickets and didn't have alcohol.  It was a lot of fun to be there and great to see the students succeed in something they put on to raise money for Expeditions.
Most people end up going to the beach for Semana Santa (Spring Break) but myself and a few friends are going to a place called Estancia Natura.  Estancia Natural is on the Spirit Mountain property which is owned and operated by Chad Wallace, who is also one of the founders of Doulos.  Hopefully I will return from the trip with lots of pics.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hyper Speed

Life has been flying by here in Jarabacoa.  The weeks are packed with school and other wonderful stuff while the weekends give some nice down time and more time for fun with friends.  Lately I have been getting back into running a lot and basically just ignoring the pain in my knee as long as it doesn't feel damaging.  This has led to want to do something crazy.  Next weekend I am going to go to the highest mountain in the Caribbean and along with one of my students we are going to try and make it up and down faster than has been recorded before.  It will be a nice round trip of 28 miles with somewhere around 10k feet of vertical in it.  It is gonna hurt a lot, but it should be really fun as well.  The good news is that we will get to use Semana Santa (Holy Week/Spring Break) to recover from the brutally crushed quads, calves, and hamstrings.
Its crazy to be less than 3 months away from Graduation and the end of the semester, and I feel like if I blink it will be summer.  I guess these are signs of enjoying life and living into the moment.
Tonight's agenda has me as a chaperon at a dance, I really don't even know what that means here, but it should be fun.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Don't go chasing waterfalls...

One of the most fun places to go here in Jarabacoa is a waterfall that takes a fun hike up a river to get to.  I've talked about this waterfall and river hike before but I have been back twice in the last couple weeks and it really never gets old.  A friend of mine took a couple pics of me up on the rocks next to the falls, so here is me getting ready to jump.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Today's the new day.

So after the last couple weeks and realizing that Monday is really busy first day of the school week I am now bumping my blog day to today (Wednesday).
This past week has been a blast.  It really has been one of my favorite weeks of the year, and I came into most of the events with a rather bad attitude.  This past weekend I was the work crew boss for a Wyldlife camp here.  I originally thought I wouldn't have the energy for it and I would be super drained to start school back up on Monday.  What really happened is that I had a blast and ran myself ragged cleaning dishes, tearing down county fairs, and whatever else random was needed.  At the end of the weekend I was totally drained but by Monday morning I was ready to go again.  Really glad I had the opportunity to serve God and the kids this weekend.
This week we also had a strength finders workshop that I was really dreading, but was really fun.  In case you were wondering... here are my strengths.
1. Adaptability
2. Consistency
3. Strategic
4. Input
5. Comman

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dia de Independencia!

I'm a couple days late on getting around to this, school stuff has been kicking my butt and this get pushed aside.  Yesterday we had our school Independence Day celebration which took up the whole morning with all sorts of dancing and drama.  Each class had some sort of presentation, it could have been a drama about the founding fathers (Duarte, Sanchez, and Mella) or it could have been a dance to a Juan Luis Guerra song.
Today we didn't have school because today is Dia de Independencia (Google even dedicated their headline to it today) so I spent the morning running (it stops really being running when you cover over 2,000 feet of vertical under 10 miles), the beginning of the afternoon watching some Harry Potter, and now writing.
As busy as the last couple days have been, the next few are going to be even more crazy.  Tomorrow is business as usual at Doulos but for dinner there will be a couple of the guys from a work team that are coming to check out what it is like for our staff.  Friday will be normal at school as well, but immediately after school until Sunday afternoon I will be going to Young Life camp to help as a Work Crew boss at a Wyldlife Camp weekend.  In other words, life is going to be nonstop from tomorrow morning until Sunday.
I keep seeing posts on Facebook about the storm in KC and pictures of mountains in Sitka.  I really miss winter right now.  Its been really hot and dry here lately and I am ready for us to get some rain again so we can get the temperature as low as possible.  I may have to go higher up into the mountains soon in search of some respite.
As per usual I am need of fundraising help so anybody that reads this is welcome to click on THIS LINK or the other place over on the right and help me out.
I don't remember if I shared this on here before, but I found this little guy on my bathroom floor not to long ago.

Monday, February 18, 2013


There is a big difference between first semester and second in that second semester here sees an influx of work teams.  So far we have had 2 or 3 here since break which is as many if not more than the entire first semester.  This week I will be hosting a group of some students at my house for dinner as part of their experience is seeing how staff here live, let me tell you, it is riveting.  All in all the work teams just seem to come and go and don't really enter my life so this will be a new thing for me.  

Other than the work teams the new hobby here has been slacklining.  We even went as far to hike up to a waterfall looking for cool places to do it over the river, but found none.  
Keith (on the line) and Kerrie are both from Manhattan, KS and were my original connection here.  Kerrie and I worked at a camp in Oregon together and ran into each other the last night the "R Bar" was open in the Spring.

Over a quarter of the way through this semester, things are flying.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Birthdays and Racing

On Thursday I turned 30!  I was planning on having a couple beers and a very restful night, but some friends had been preparing a birthday dinner and hang out time instead, needless to say it was much better than what I planned.  Peppers stuffed with all sorts of cheesy goodness, guacamole, auyama (sort of like pumpkin or squash) tacos, solid deserts, and a few choice beers shared between all of us was enough to satisfy my belly for a long time.  I really couldn't have asked for a better low key birthday.  Even Friday at school was very restful as our freshman had gone to the capitol to see the Body Work exhibit.  All in all my time leading up to the weekend was very nice.  
Once the weekend came things took on a different feel.  Saturday myself and 3 friends hoped into a car and headed to Santo Domingo.  I had never been to the capitol but felt like I was doing okay without it.  Although I still think I am doing okay without it, I really did enjoy our time there.  We stayed in a friend of a friends apartment which was in a really neat part of town and enjoyed a night driving around town and some fine dining pizza.  The reason we went to the capitol was for a race on Sunday morning just North of town.  We woke up early and headed toward El Higuero were the race was and a beautiful morning followed.  The race was 17k a little under 10.5 miles, and was on old dirt roads, single track trails, creek beds filled with rocks, and many other surfaces.  It was a well put on race and a lot of fun.  Our group was all satisfied with our performances and we headed back to Jarabacoa happy and hungry.
Its Monday morning again and this week at school should be a really productive one with my Revolutionary Leaders expedition taking full flight and switching over from the Protestant Reformation to the Scientific Revolution.  This morning I even discussed what Jesus says about Zombies with my Freshman guys devotional group.

I forgot to mention its Carnaval
After conquering the course
Prerace team photo 
 The view from our apartment in Santo Domingo